During the Ching Dynasty in China, the emperor’s private bodyguards had their whip chains with them wherever they went. When accompanying the emperor, they could easily conceal the weapon around their waists, and could quickly and very effectively bring the weapon into its devastating use.
The whip chain is known as a soft weapon in Chinese martial arts due to its extreme flexibility of use. It is a metal linked chain usually containing seven or nine links, with a handle on one end and a heavy pointed tip, or dart, on the other. The weapon is used by rapidly swirling the chain around the body. The heavy dart on the chain can be thrown using the arms, legs, shoulders and even the head. When in an attack or throwing mode, the chain can be quickly coiled back and redirected to any direction around the body.
Learning to use the whip chain takes long hours of practice. At times, a few cuts and bruises can be expected. Loss of focus, even for an instant, can turn out to be painful. However, using flags at both the handle and the dart end of the weapon allows the chain’s rate of movement to be decreased, and also allows the ends of the weapon to be easily seen. The use of a sheath at the dart end of the chain is also very helpful, as it greatly reduces the impact of the dart on the practitioner’s body in case of loss of control.
The whip chain in action is a beautiful and interesting weapon, and its proper use is a long-term challenge to the practitioner. The practice of the whip chain is fairly rare, especially in the United States. Through the tutelage of Master Robert, those students learning and mastering the whip chain will continue this weapon’s fascinating history.